For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
I love nativity scenes! We have several sitting out in our house during the Christmas season. We have the Willow Tree nativity, the Precious Moments nativity, even some nativity sets from other countries: one from Haiti, and one from Africa (The Africa set has chickens, a dog, and an elephant in the animal lineup). But as much as I love these pretty little painted nativity sets, they are not the best representation of the birth of Jesus. I think they dress it up a bit too much. Looking at them, one would think Jesus was born in a church sanctuary, while a choir softly sang, surrounded by impeccably dressed people who had rehearsed just where to stand and what expression to have on their face. But He wasn’t.
Jesus was born into chaos. Try to imagine the disorder of the day; a town in the turmoil of a government-mandated census (too many people impatient and putout, not enough food or rooms to stay in). Try to imagine the predicament of His parents: poor, out of wedlock, teenagers who were nervous and scared, and overwhelmed with a responsibility for which they had not planned. What’s more, they were on a journey away from their hometown, away from what was familiar. They were not delivering their first child in a hospital or a home. They were certainly not in a church sanctuary or even at the inn, but in a stable of some kind, surrounded by dirty shepherds and smelly, noisy livestock (elephant notwithstanding).
You see what the nativities often leave out are the sounds, the smells, the mud and the muck. We gloss over the fact that it was messy. There was crying and screaming, blood and pain, and mud and poop, and stress and fear, that first Christmas. It’s into that kind of chaotic, messy, stressful situation that Jesus was born. And that is comforting.
It’s comforting because that’s what my life looks like sometimes. It’s comforting because I am more like a messy barn than a pristine nativity set. The way Christ was born reminds me that Jesus joins me in my chaos and struggle. He is willing to show up in the midst my disorder and get messy, if necessary, to see me through. And into my mess He brings peace. Because, the Prince of Peace does not hover above the manure of my days untouched and unfazed. He is born into it… surrounded by it, laid at the center of it. And because He is there with me, I have peace.
Prayer: God, may I remember in the chaos, stress and messiness of my life that You are here with me. And that You bring peace. Bring me peace, Oh Lord.
Johns Creek Baptist Church